2 SAMUEL 15:23-16:23 | JOHN 18:25-19:22 | PSALM 119:113-128 | PROVERBS 16:10-11
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There is complete disorder in the kingdom of David. While David the king has had to flee his own land, the insurrection of Absalom, his son, continues unabated. David initially takes the Ark of the Covenant with him, but thinks better of it and sends it back to Jerusalem with the priests.
En route to the Mount of Olives in ashes and sackcloth, David is wondering how it can be that he has become a prey to his own flesh and blood. And he encounters equally puzzling incidents along the way: there is a man from the tribe of Benjamin that heaps curses upon the king as he passes by, and then there is the servant of Mephibosheth, who comes to David with gifts because his own master, the grandson of Saul, now believes that he will soon become installed as king of Israel!
In the meantime, Absalom receives the worst possible advice from the kings’ counselors who have jumped ship onto Absalom’s side. They tell Absalom to sleep with his father’s concubines in a show of domination and power. Woe is unto Absalom!
Turning now to our reading in the gospel of John, we see Pontius Pilate the Roman governor utter these words about Jesus: “I find no basis for a charge against him.” And yet, the crowd that has been instigated by the elders and teachers of the Sanhedrin, the religious body, wants blood—and they want it now. And so, the trial is over, the verdict is in, and the execution is underway.
But Pilate is still unconvinced, and you almost feel sorry for the man—he tries again and again to let Jesus go, but never does find the courage of his convictions to act upon it. The Jewish leaders tell Pilate this: “We have a law, and according to that law he (Jesus) must die, because he claimed to be the Son of God.” And finally, Pilate gives in.
The other gospels record that he symbolically washes his hands to indicate that the blood of this man called Jesus is not on his hands, but the sad fact is that it certainly was. It was on the hands of Pilate as much as it was on the hands of every single person who called for his death on that day.
But as one last effort to make known his position, Pilate orders a sign to be installed above Jesus’ cross that proclaims: JESUS OF NAZARETH, THE KING OF THE JEWS.
For a Roman governor to publicly acknowledge a kingship in a land that is occupied by the Romans and ruled by Caesar, this was indeed a brazenly courageous act. Pilate was jeopardizing his own position in doing this, but he remains unmoved when the Jewish elders come to him and ask that the sign be modified to read that Jesus claimed he was the king of the Jews. Pilate replies, “What I have written, I have written.”
Our journey through the very long Psalm 119 continues. Some verses that stand out to me are these:
114 You are my refuge and my shield;
I have put my hope in your word.
115 Away from me, you evildoers,
that I may keep the commands of my God!
116 Sustain me, my God, according to your promise, and I will live;
do not let my hopes be dashed.
117 Uphold me, and I will be delivered;
123 My eyes fail, looking for your salvation,
looking for your righteous promise.
124 Deal with your servant according to your love
and teach me your decrees.
125 I am your servant; give me discernment
that I may understand your statutes.
And finally, a verse from Proverbs that speaks to the constant justice to be found in God’s dealings:
11 Honest scales and balances belong to the Lord;
all the weights in the bag are of his making.
May God bless the reading and reflection of His Word.